A common misconception when cruising is all passengers will get seasick. This doesn’t have to be the case with some targeted pre-planning and common sense seasickness remedies.
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When my family first decided to voyage on Disney Cruise Line we weren’t sure how our then 5-year-old daughter would handle the pitching and rolling that sometimes comes with cruising since she hadn’t experienced much seagoing in her young life. After much research (a lot of which is below) we found what worked for her and had a wonderful vacation.
To start with, we should define exactly what seasickness is: Medically speaking it is caused when the Vestibular Apparatus in the inner ear is sending signals that do not match the sensations of motion the body is seeing and feeling. Simply, it’s the fact that your brain, inner ear and eyes are all sending different signals to your brain causing nausea which can lead to vomiting and, in severe cases, dehydration. So basically… it’s all in your head.
There are three categories of seasickness remedies: Prevention, Non-Medicinal and Medicinal. We will look at all three.
Preventing Seasickness Before You Even Board
- Book a cruise on a newer ship which likely has the latest stabilization technology.
- Choose a stateroom near the middle of the ship and on a low deck where the pitching and rolling are less magnified.
- Choose an outside stateroom where you can open the door and get fresh air.
- If you are sailing in the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico avoid the months of June – November when hurricane season is at its height.
- Book a cruise in a calmer body of water such as the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea. Open oceans can rock and roll.
- Get a good night’s sleep prior to cruising
- Stay sober – a mild hangover can actually degenerate into seasickness
- Stay away from acidic, high-fat, greasy and spicy foods such as coffee and orange juice.
- Be hydrated when you board – start hydrating 24-48 hours prior to cruising by drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day leading up to your cruise
- Vitamin B6 can protect against seasickness. Begin taking two 100mg pills two to three days before traveling and continue throughout your trip.
- If possible, take care of those things that can affect the inner ear such as runny noses and cleaning out wax build up in your ears.
Preventing Seasickness While on Your Cruise
- Not that this is going to be difficult but RELAX – anxiety contributes to seasickness
- Do not overindulge on the plethora of food available on a cruise ship. An overfull stomach can also result is nausea.
- Snack on protein packed food as opposed to sugary, greasy or fatty food
- Avoid books, computer screen and phone screen
- Stay away from those who are also sick – we all know what happens when we watch others getting sick
Non-Medicinal Seasickness Remedies
- Focus on a non-moving object such as the horizon
- Get fresh air
- Add ginger to your diet – capsules, candies, teas, biscuits, powder and gums. The British Journal of Anaesthesia actually did a study on the effects of ginger on nausea and vomiting and found that ginger can reduce those effects. NOTE: Ginger should not be used as a seasickness remedy of you are taking any blood thinners.
- Apply pressure to the P6 pressure point in the wrist which is known to relieve motion sickness. The P6 spot is located three finger widths up the forearm from the wrist.
- Use pressure bands such as Sea-Band (which are available for adults and children) and Acuband. There are also ReliefBands which are kinda pricey but they actually deliver a small electrical pulse instead of pressure to the P6 spot.
- Jump in the pool – as the ship pitches and rolls around you, the water will keep you steady
- Breathe deeply – If possible, try to breathe in and out in counts of five. If you start to hyperventilate grab a paper bag to help control your breathing
- Stay hydrate while cruising – drink water or ginger ale throughout the day but NOT alcohol
- Don’t smoke – smoking (besides being horrible for you but I won’t go there) can exacerbate the effects of seasickness. The smell alone can make most ill.
Medicinal Seasickness Remedies
As with any medicinal seasickness remedy, please check with your primary care physician before taking any of the medications.
- Scopolamine patch
- Quease Ease
- Being rested and relaxed is an important part of curing seasickness. However, when you are feeling yucky it’s hard to sleep so you might need to take a sleep aid such as the PM pain relievers.
Prevention Suggestions That Work
The prevention method we used for our 5-year-old daughter was to pre-treat with ½ tablet of Dramamine starting two days prior to embarkation and continuing throughout the cruise. It worked like a DREAM… not even a hint of seasickness. Now it’s quite possible she wouldn’t have even gotten seasick. But isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
And the Research Shows… It’s All in Your Head
So just for funsies I thought I would try to find the latest in medical research regarding seasickness cures and believe it or not a study was done in 2016 which gave 20 patients a placebo after visually inducing seasickness and found that simply telling the patients they were receiving treatment combined with verbal suggestion they would be fine achieved reduction in symptoms. So what does that mean… it’s all in your head. Seasickness really is more about body awareness than a medical ailment so having a positive outlook is half the battle.
DISCLAIMER: If you are indeed susceptible to seasickness, you should check with your family physician prior to cruising. There are prescription strength seasickness remedies they can match to your specific condition.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She is a team mom extraordinaire who has filled her time serving as secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist for her daughter’s travel sports team for over 15 years before becoming a club owner. She is also a travel consultant for Looking Glass Travel specializing in Disney destinations. You can follow her on Twitter at @JazzinDisneyMom.